a short list of worthwhile books
Introduction to metaphysics by martin heidegger
they give away paperback books of this type in used book stores. the best books ever written. it takes about three readings of a book like this for me to begin to grasp things. one of my fave things in here is how he analyzes the verb "to be." his thing is that "to be" has lost meaning, we say something is or isn't and we don't even really think about it. one of his ideas is that the verb "to be" initially had a component of endurance. to exist entails endurance. i read over that a few times and cut way down on my complaining. if we live, there are things that must be endured. it's a component of living. there's much more here, that's just one thing.
an introduction to the symbolism and the psychology
Marie-Louise von Franz
written by a co-worker of jung, this book bridges together the ancient ideas of alchemy with more modern thought. sample:
" If through fighting and meeting the unconscious one has suffered long enough, a kind of objective personality is established; a nucleus forms in the person which is at peace, quiet even in the midst of the greatest life storms, intensely alive but without action and without participation in the conflict. that peace of mind often comes to people when they have suffered long enough: one day something breaks and the face acquires a quiet expression, for something has been born which remains in the center, outside or beyond the conflict, which does not go on any more as it did."
i think that frozen moment the author describes there, is what poets and songwriters have been capturing or trying to capture. so many of the songs i love and have tried to write have attempted to deal with that moment. when something better starts happening, almost of it's own accord.
the bhagavad gita
a few years ago my friend jim woodring sent me a copy of this. if you haven't read it, do yourself a favor and read it three times. i usually always have a copy of it on me in paperback when i travel.
" action imprisons the world
unless it is done as a sacrifice;
freed from attatchment, arjuna,
perform action as sacrifice."
a treatise concerning the principles of human understanding
eyvind kang told me about this book. again, i had to take quite a few gos at it. berkeley has such an interesting take on human experience and develops it in a way that can be understood, even if you don't agree with him.
i do agree with him.
it's funny to see berkeley bash locke soundly about the head and shoulders.
after dispensing with matter on page 81 things get really interesting.
in the introduction he shows the implausibility of abstract ideas.
try this one on:
"Qualities as hath been shewn, are nothing else but sensations or ideas, which exist only in a mind perceiving them; and this is true not only of the ideas we are acquainted with at present, but likewise of all possible ideas whatsoever."
some of berkeley's ideas reminded me when say for instance you are going to a foreign country, and some know-it-all will say, "well here's the deal with THAT place." and you go and it's nothing like what mr. know-it-all said.
things only exist in their particulars.
like when people say, "well in the south here's what people do." and you go there and it's nothing like that.
that happened to me over and over and i could never understand that function.
so i was glad to get ahold of berkeley.
i just finished bertrand russell's abc's of the theory of relativity, and it seems that berkeley posited many of the things einstein had to say three hundred years earlier, about relative motion and such. russell made no mention of the western dudes that hinted at those theories centuries earlier. why?
introduction to logic
harry j. gensler
this is a textbook so it's kind of dry. a funny thing happened after i studied about halfway through. things people would say didn't make any sense any more. it kind of messed me up because the weird things that people say that don't make any sense...well they stopped making sense. you hear things all the time that don't technically make sense, or contain a logical fallacy. i wasn't used to questioning on that level. gensler presents a system whereby you can take a statement and give the words symbols and then work through the equation and evaluate it. i came to the conclusion that almost nothing makes sense really.... headlines, things people say as common wisdom, lines in movies, yikes. it got kinda bad, and you can really piss people off if you interupt them and say, "what you just said doesn't make sense and contains a logical fallacy."
i have since read emails from friends that had some weird logical leap in there and i restrained myself from writing back, "you know there is a logical fallacy in your statement here and if you find it and cop to it, i'll send you fifty bucks." or something like that. but i thought better and let it pass.